After studying the information on the USD 489 website, I am leaning toward voting no on the school bond proposal. The information provided is biased and lacks sufficient information and explanation of why some buildings will be renovated and others replaced. Although I have been impressed with Superintendent John Thissen’s prompt answers to my questions, I would have had far fewer questions if the website had provided more information. Below are some concerns/questions I still have regarding the proposal, which I think are better addressed for the whole community.
1. Much information on the current condition of the schools was provided, but little on the costs of renovating vs. replacing each school, including costs of addressing specific needs for each building and costs of demolition of Wilson Elementary School.
2. There was no explanation of the criteria used to decide whether or not to renovate or replace each building.
3. If the district can’t sell the abandoned Lincoln and Washington elementary schools, how much will it cost to demolish these buildings?
4. Would adding more classrooms to existing buildings and hiring new teachers address the classroom-space needs more effectively? Personally, I have greater faith in quality teachers and effective involvement of parents/legal guardians in the education of their kids than I do in “21st Century Learning Environments.”
5. Why was the survey of Hays residents ignored when the majority said they wanted smaller, more frequent bond issues and 83% didn’t want property taxes on a $150,000 home to increase by more than $10 per month?
I can see from the information on the USD 489 website that our schools have some tremendous needs and I strongly support addressing them. However, I don’t think we’ve been provided enough information to make an informed vote on whether this proposal best addresses those needs, especially at a time when state taxes will likely increase to meet the constitutionally required spending for adequacy and equity among districts.
Helen Hands, Hays